Four Ways You Can Help a Grieving Widower Deal With Financial Affairs by Teresa Greenhill

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Living on after the passing of a loved one is incredibly difficult; dealing with finances adds to the stress, and this is especially true for the survivors of suicide victims. The Gift of Second is a place for anyone suffering from this tremendous loss to find hope, encouragement, understanding, and community. Reach out to find out more today. 

Four Ways You Can Help a Grieving Widower Deal With Financial Affairs

The loss of a spouse is one of the most difficult experiences to go through, and the stress to the nervous system can even increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes according to Harvard Medical School. If a loved one has recently been widowed, you’ll want to help out any way you can — and helping with financial matters is a great way to help. 

There’s a lot of paperwork to go through and a lot of organizations to contact, and it can be very confusing, especially for someone who is grieving. The Gift of Second outlines a few processes that you can help with.

Accessing Funds

Your loved one will face immediate expenses in the form of burial costs, plus they will have to cover their usual bills and living costs with only their own income. So you’ll need to access funds such as life insurance, social security benefits, veterans’ benefits, and employee benefits as soon as possible. To access these funds you’ll need the death certificate — Everplans has a state-by-state guide on how to obtain that. If your loved one’s spouse was employed at the time of death, they may also be owed money in unpaid wages or in untaken holiday time. Contact the employer to determine whether this is the case.

Using the proceeds from the sale of your loved one’s home is another option when it comes to drumming up much-needed funds during this difficult time. Thanks to Redfin’s online home sale proceeds calculator, you can easily determine how much the property sale will raise, allowing you to better plan for the here and now and the future.

The Will and Probate

If the deceased had written a will, you will need to locate a copy of it, as it will make probate much easier and quicker. The family lawyer or other members of the family may be able to help you locate it. During probate, someone must be appointed as the representative of the estate, which will usually be the widowed person, unless otherwise specified in the will. 

The probate process involves verifying the authenticity of the will, appointing the representative, and then distributing the assets as indicated in the will. If the deceased did not write a will, or if the will cannot be found, the estate will be distributed in accordance with intestacy laws.

Change of Ownership and Title

Generally speaking, ownership of assets that are co-owned by the deceased and another individual are passed to that survivor. These assets, such as property and joint bank accounts, are exempt from probate. However, you will still need to have the deceased’s name removed from them. 

Other assets can be exempt from probate if the deceased had named a beneficiary, which might include insurance plans, IRAs, bank accounts and retirement plans. In such cases, not only will you need to help your loved one arrange the transfer of ownership, but you’ll also need to review the insurance plans — the previous coverage may no longer be appropriate for a single individual.

Future Planning

When it comes to health, it’s important to discuss health insurance options. If your loved one has a basic Medicare plan and feels that they need extra coverage now or in the future, you can both go online together and research Medicare Advantage plans. Plans offered by companies like Aetna provide a range of benefits, which may include vision, dental, and/or medication coverage. 

When you feel the time is right, you could also talk to your loved one about their end-of-life arrangements. Only 27 percent of people have had “the conversation,” which is understandable as it is a difficult topic. However, recent events may highlight to your loved one the need to be prepared and leave their affairs in good order for their family. You should encourage them to talk about the things that are most important to them, such as setting up a nonprofit organization in their honor, which ZenBusiness explains in detail.

It’s a sad fact that these complicated financial matters fall in the survivors’ lap when they are in perhaps the worst frame of mind to deal with them. However, depending on your loved one’s current financial status, they may need to act fairly quickly to access the money they need to cover day-to-day expenses. You can start helping out today by arranging to obtain the death certificate and starting to look for the will.

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One Response

  1. Lisa
    | Reply

    This is a great list and one that I wish I’d had. One major exclusion though is social security benefits, especially if there are dependents. IMO that should be the first item on the list of financial matters.

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